For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. 2 Corinthians 1:5-11 (emphasis mine)
In this excerpt of a letter to the Corinthians, Paul explains that he has suffered personally for the purpose of being a testament of God’s grace as well as forcing him to rely on God and not himself. Now I don’t know, firsthand, Paul’s kind of suffering. I’ve never been beaten, jailed or shipwrecked.
But I “get” what Paul is saying here. For me, “great pressure, far beyond our [my] ability to endure” is my youngest son having cancer and taking care of him despite my own physical struggles. Fighting pain and weakness. On some days, fighting to walk.
I also draw incredible strength from these words. Knowing that there is purpose to our suffering if we are children of God, that it is not just random happenstance, gives me the ability to endure one more day. One more hour. And, yes, relying on God. Indeed, falling on Him. Falling on His words of truth with absolute, undivided trust truly brings peace to my troubled soul. And what I mean by “undivided” is that I’m not trusting “partly on God, but mostly on myself.” Which I tend to do like every other day. I mean when I’m fully surrendered to God’s word, my trust is pure.
We are “on vacation” in Ocean City this week. However, Justin is mostly lying sick and miserable on the couch and I am struggling with pain and weakness (why are there so many stairs in beach houses?!) I have thought about Justin playing happily in the sand and waves last summer. So much has drastically changed for him this past year. But there is no point in dwelling on what has already been. Instead, I am relying on God to help me to keep stepping forward.
Still, we have had moments of joy, this week, like sunlight temporarily breaking through a grey sky. And we will continue to persevere in faith toward Justin’s ultimate healing and our family’s deliverance from this trial.
Thank you for your faithful prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many.
May you know the grace of our Lord amid your own suffering, my friends. He will deliver us again.